Dr Deike Schulz inaugurated as Professor of Applied Sciences

On Thursday 9 March 2023, Dr Deike Schulz was officially inaugurated by the Executive Board of NHL Stenden as Professor of Applied Sciences of the 'Organisations and Social Media' professorship. During the inauguration, she delivered her abbreviated inaugural speech: 'Addressing the influencer in the Room - Meaningful Communication Revisited'.

Dr. Deike Schulz
What is meaningful social media communication?

Positioning paper dr. Deike Schulz

Addressing the influencer in the Room – Meaningful Communication Revisited

In her speech, Dr Schulz addressed the role of meaningful communication as the basis for sustainable relationships in organisation- and/or citizen-driven online communities. In doing so, she took a look at a value-driven influencer economy: what are the (im)possibilities of responsible leadership in online/offline communities?

Meaningful communication

How do people in online communities react to each other and what impact does this have on organisations and society? Can influencers do their jobs in an ethical way? What are the effects of online group polarisation and filter bubbles on society? These are relevant questions that Dr Schulz studies together with her team of researchers, lecturers, students and organisations through practice-based research. Meaningful communication forms the starting point, which is defined by the professorship as communication during which people and/or organisations engage in dialogue with each other, become emotionally involved and establish lasting relationships.

Circular Meaningful Communication Model

In her research 'What is meaningful social media communication? Understanding meaningful content, dialogue and commitment', which Dr Schulz conducted together with Dr Afke van der Woud and Dr Mirjam Lasthuizen, the researchers discuss how online interaction can be analysed, and how meaningful communication can be established in online communities, both by the 'creators' of content and their stakeholders (the audience).

For this purpose, the Organisations and Social Media professorship has designed the 'Circular Meaningful Communication Model' (CMC model), which discusses how content, dialogue and engagement create meaningful communication, both on- and offline. The model can be applied by organisations, students and researchers and can contribute to both the analysis of existing and also the development of new social media initiatives. It helps content creators in identifying essential elements that can lead to that meaningful communication.

‘With our research, we want to encourage corporations and people to think about the impact of their content, in their role as creator and/or stakeholder.’


Students as experts

In her speech and her research, Schulz emphasises the great importance of students, who are involved as experts in practice-based research in the professorship. After all, young people do not just know social media as users, but they are often also frontrunners when it comes to keeping track of and trying out new developments. What is even better is to analyse and interpret content, dialogues and engagement on social media platforms together with students, and to think together about how both positive and negative expressions can be translated into media formats that can create more awareness among users and value drive among creators. The CMC model supports students in this process . "By trying to understand others, we may be able to get ideas to motivate organisations and citizens to step outside their 'online filter bubble' and broaden their social outlook," they say. For them, the added value of the CMC model is mainly to help students, researchers and organisations learn to listen to their audiences through social media analysis and develop creative solutions to organisational and societal issues.

‘By trying to understand others, we may be able to get ideas to motivate organisations and citizens to step outside their 'online filter bubble’.'

About the lector

Dr Deike Schulz has been with NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences since 2002, where she started as a New Media lecturer. During her PhD project at the Nijmegen School of Management, she discovered how much satisfaction it gave her to translate innovative methodological approaches into hands-on projects with colleagues and students. In 2016, Schulz became associate lector of the Organisations and Social Media professorship and intensively involved students and colleagues in projects, so that, together with the professorship, they became co-creators of online research. This is how she envisions Design Based Research in practice in the coming years. In spring 2021, Schulz received her PhD from Radboud University Nijmegen on her research into the influence of online communication, specifically legitimacy assessments, within citizen-driven online communities. She has been a lector of the professorship since 2021.

About the professorship

The Organisations and Social Media professorship is part of the Academy Communication & Creative Business at NHL Stenden. Its mission is to contribute to the development of knowledge, professional products and networks based around responsible and value-driven leadership on social media specifically by addressing themes, such as the influencer economy, online group polarisation and intercultural communication. The professorship has an integral role within the curricula of the various courses. Collaborations with lecturers, students and organisations on issues from professional practice are central. This can be done in various ways, for example by taking on a client role or researching issues as a co-creator. The professorship works together in an interdisciplinary team of (lecturer) researchers, project leaders and interns.

Want to know more about the professorship? Check out our website.